The senior management of the Old Course of St Andrews have recently lost a legal battle over trademarking rights. They wanted the rights to the town’s name as a means of securing their own brand and to prevent other companies from around the globe from using it in the promotion of their own products.
Despite already owning the rights to the name with regards to multiple different goods including jewellery, golf equipment, cooking utensils and clothing. The aim of gaining the rights was to allow for an expansion of ownership into accommodation, catering services and travel.
However, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) declared that it was not possible for a town’s name to be used for these purposes. The Trust argued that when customers would have the famous courses in mind then they saw the trademarked name.
Ultimately, the powers that be disagreed. They suggested that people could instead link these goods with the town rather than just golf. The EUIPO have said, “it is not excluded that the town St Andrews will be visited by persons who may not have the intention of playing golf but want to explore the town, its landmarks and surroundings.”
Moreover, a statement has also since been released by the St Andrews Links Trust themselves. A spokesman said, “St Andrews Links invests in protecting its brands and reputation globally for those who share in our commitment to protecting the reputation and town of St Andrews as The Home of Golf.”
This is not the first time though that the Links Trust have lost a legal battle over naming rights. Back in 2018, the EU General Court denied them permission to use St Andrews as a trademark for conferences and books. For now, this case has been settled but whether the Links continues to fight for these trademarking rights remains to be seen.